It seems like Honda Cars India, the Indian subsidiary of the Japanese auto maker, would soon overtake popular Indian passenger vehicle manufacturer, Tata Motors, to become the the third highest selling car maker in the country. Honda Cars India launched the Amaze sedan back in April this year, with diesel variant prices starting at INR 5.99 lakh (bang on in Maruti Dzire territory).
A look at the car sales figure in current fiscal reveal that in four out of six months, Honda Cars India has managed to sell more cars than Tata Motors.
Honda sold 10,354 cars last month, which translates into a growth of 88% on comparison with sales coming in September 2012. Compared to Tata Motors’ 9,766 units, Honda sold almost 600 cars more.
It shouldn’t come across as a surprise that it is the Amaze sedan that is responsible for this change of fate for Honda. The Amaze, which is an entry level sedan, is the first Honda car to have come equipped with a diesel engine and pretty unsurprisingly, the car has won plenty of rave reviews from car buyers and experts alike.
While Honda has managed to garner a good response from diesel car buyers in the country, it would be interesting to see if its diesel models would continue to enthrall diesel car buyers over a longer period of time. “But it remains to be seen how Honda carries on the momentum from here. Its quality was never in question. It suffered because of the price difference between petrol and diesel,” said Anil Sharma, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive consulting firm. “Not to take anything away from Honda, but the weak performance of Tata has helped Honda’s case. They have capitalized on it.”
Honda, however, is confident that it will be able to keep buyers interested, with several new products lined up for India launch. “We will be maintaining this momentum,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president of marketing and sales at Honda Cars India. Sen has also said that all the upcoming cars in the company’s product portfolio would com equipped with a diesel engine. It may be noted that Honda Cars India intends to soon launch the next gen City, next gen Jazz and Honda Mobilio MPV in India. “All of these models are designed for a diesel engine. That’s the original plan,” he said. “But the recent reversal in trend of consumers moving to petrol cars would make us think again the whole strategy.”, he said.
Sharma of IHS Automotive also feels that a low capacity diesel engine may work wonders for the manufacturer. “That segment (Brio segment) still has fewer cars with a diesel option. A smaller diesel engine will be an added bonus,” Sharma said.